From new spring bulbs to pruning tips, get a jump start on the change of season and keep your garden looking great with our expert gardening guide
Start preparing your garden for spring with these easy tips
+ Thoughts of spring are on every gardener’s mind at this time of year, with daffodils and other bulbs popping up and early blossoms appearing on trees. If you have space for a spring-flowering tree now is a good time to get one planted, although if your garden is very frosty you’ll need to wait a few more weeks.
Trees that won’t take up too much room yet add beautiful flower colour in spring include crab apple, lilac, kowhai, magnolia and Prunus and Michelia species. Always check the cultivar is suitable for the space you have before buying.
+ When buying plants check if there are any roots coming out of the pot or bag. If there are none and the soil feels loose, the plant has probably only recently being potted and isn’t ready to be planted out. Too many roots and very tight soil? Your plant may be rootbound and not a healthy specimen.
+ Snail hunting is a great way to get the kids out in the garden in winter – just after rainfall is best. The snails can then be fed to the blackbirds, chooks or ducks in the park.
+ Feed your spring bulbs regularly with bulb food, particularly those in pots. Start when shoots pop up and carry on right until the leaves turn yellow. The result: loads more blooms.
+ As spring bulbs finish flowering, prune off spent blooms but don’t be tempted to cut off their leaves. Leave these to die down naturally as this process provides nutrients for next year’s flowers.
+ Slugs and snails are particularly keen on clivia, rengarenga lilies, hostas, hippeastrum and other lush-leaved plants. No time for snail hunting? Then make or buy traps, scatter snail bait (Tui’s Quash is non-toxic to birds and other wildlife) or try Fodda which contains coffee grounds and egg shell to repel snails while feeding the soil.
+ It’s not too late to prune roses unless you live in a very frosty area where a spring chop is probably better now. Feed with a good rose fertiliser, mulch with well-rotted compost and animal manure and add chopped-up banana skins for an extra mineral boost. Planting garlic or any Allium species around roses is said to make their scent even better.
+ If your hibiscus have finished flowering, tidy them up by pruning out dead or diseased branches and trimming healthy stems to stop plants getting out of shape. For lots of flowers experts advise retaining only 3-4 main branches and cutting them back by a third every year, just above an outward-facing leaf node (the junction of a leaf and stem).
Words by: Carol Bucknell.